Mead Johnson facing whistleblower lawsuit over baby formula.
As reported in Crains Chicago Business, Mead Johnson[“MJ”] a baby formula manufacturer headquartered in Illinois, is being sued for allegedly downplaying concerns about spoiled formula. Linda O’Risky, a longtime employee of the company, filed the lawsuit in federal court last week. O’Risky was the Global Product Compliance Director for MJ. Her responsibilities included insuring the company followed federal guidelines and reviewing consumer complaints.
O’Risky alleged that in early 2015 the company learned that an 8 ounce infant formula made in 2014 showed signs of spoilage due to defective seals. O’Risky says she learned of the issue in March, 2015 when she was copied on an email explaining that MJ was going to dump nearly 1 million units of the formula – due to concerns about the seal. O’Risky alleged that the formula involved had been manufactured as early as January, 2015 and that she was concerned some of the potentially spoiled formula was still on the market. O’Risky says she and MJ’s chief scientific officer tried for months to get the company to comply with relevant Food & Drug Administration guidelines. O’Risky also alleged that MJ employees investigating the matter later falsely claimed that the defective seal was not a food, safety or FDA problem because the defective seal “would be obvious to the consumer.”
Nonetheless, O’Risky persisted and ultimately reported her concerns to the JM Integrity Concern hotline. She was later excluded from meetings, and in, November, 2015, she was fired. MJ has denied the allegations in the complaint.